Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate to adapt slavery series ‘1619 Project’ for TV and film

Oprah Winfrey in 2018, holding a Golden Globe award
Oprah Winfrey has signed on to adapt “The 1619 Project” for film and TV.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

“1619 Project,” the New York Times’ award-winning multimedia series that examines slavery’s lingering effects on contemporary life, is about to go widescreen with the help of Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate.

Creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times Magazine, and NYT will work with Winfrey and Lionsgate to adapt “The 1619 Project” into a set of feature films and television shows.

Hannah-Jones tweeted about the partnership Wednesday morning, writing, “It’s been almost a year since we published the #1619 Project, the most important work of my life,” followed by her excitement to “bring this work on slavery’s legacy to tv and film!”

The New York Times Company released its own announcement about the project.

“One of the most impactful and thought-provoking works of journalism of the past decade, the Times Magazine’s ‘1619 Project’ was a landmark undertaking that connected the centrality of slavery in history with an unflinching account of the brutal racism that endures in so many aspects of American life today,” the statement read.

“We took very seriously our duty to find TV and film partners that would respect and honor the work and mission of ‘The 1619 Project’ that understood our vision and deep moral obligation to doing justice to these stories,” Hannah-Jones said in the same statement.


“I am excited for this opportunity to extend the breadth and reach of ‘The 1619 Project’ and to introduce these stories of Black resistance and resilience to even more American households.”

Initiated by Hannah-Jones for the New York Times Magazine, the project consists of various essays that trace different parts of daily life back to their roots in slavery. A podcast supplements the essays with five episodes discussing them. In addition, 17 literary works by contemporary Black writers accompany the essays, inspired by various events within the 400-year timeline of slavery.

Hannah-Jones and Winfrey will produce all adapted content alongside Caitlin Roper, an editor of “The 1619 Project” and head of scripted entertainment at the New York Times.

Winfrey expressed her honor to be involved in the adaptation in a tweet, recalling that she “stood in tearful applause for the profound offering that [the project] was giving our culture and nation.”

The project went live in August 2019. A timeline for its adaptation has not yet been revealed.